A belated criminal charge of extortion laid by ANC MP Supra Mahumapelo, the former North West premier, hinges on tenders at the provincial bus service company, the North West Transport Initiative (NTI), and an alleged dodgy offer made to him one morning at a Cape Town hotel in 2015.
Mahumapelo told City Press on Friday that the two co-accused are senior ANC leaders in the North West, Saliva Molapisi, MEC of public works and roads, and Themba Gwabeni, an adviser to Premier Job Mokgoro.
They allegedly approached him “unsolicited” in January 2015 and offered him 25% of all procurement contracts at the NTI, which bought supplies, such as diesel and tyres, for buses from service providers.
Earlier this week, more than four years since the alleged incident, Mahumapelo, now an ANC MP based in Cape Town, opened a criminal case of extortion against Molapisi and Gwabeni.
“I have two witnesses who accompanied them as members of the NTI board. When they got to me, they said, ‘We have reserved 25% of the procurement budget for you.’ I chased them away, saying that I could not get involved in that.”
He said the reason he had opened the case now would become clearer as it progressed, especially the link between allegations that he was involved in the assassination of prominent North West businessperson Wandile Bozwana, who was shot at least nine times in October 2015.
He said his rejection of the corrupt NTI offer triggered the formation of the North West Business Forum, the mission of which was to destroy him.
Bozwana was a member of the forum.
“I will prove that in court and people will clearly see the link,” he said.
Mahumapelo said his analysis of the NTI offer was that it was meant to capture or compromise him.
“When you are compromised you cannot decide anything going forward. There is no way they can deny that they came to my hotel uninvited. And the statements of the two witnesses on my side, who were members of the board, will show that.”
He said was no longer going to go easy on his detractors because “when you are quiet, people think it is open season”.
Gwabeni and Molapisi denied the alleged meeting with Mahumapelo. Gwabeni described Mahumapelo as an “evil tyrant” who projected himself as “righteous and closer to God”.
He said the erstwhile premier had “reached a cul-de-sac and he was now clutching at straws”, adding that “with his level of pomposity, he would never have sat on such allegations for such a long time”.
He said Mahumapelo should have found the nearest police station in Cape Town and opened the case.
“And after that he should have opened a case against himself because it is in contravention of law to keep quiet when you know of a crime being committed and his complacency must be investigated,” he said.
Gwabeni, who previously chaired the NTI board, recalled a provincial cabinet meeting in Taung in Modimong on May 27 2015 when Mahumapelo allegedly tried to dissolve the board of the NTI because it had failed to appoint a transactional adviser to assess its possible sale to the Gauteng government.
Gwabeni said he opposed the move because South Africa was not a federal state and therefore a state company belonging to the North West by default belonged to the country and other provinces, such as Gauteng, as well.
“We rejected the dissolution without due process.”
He said that after the attempted dissolution of the board was challenged, four out of the seven board members resigned in a bid to collapse the body, but that also failed.
He said Molapisi – then the MEC of community safety and transport – was fired for contesting Mahumapelo’s decision to move the administration of the school transport function from the provincial department of community safety and transport to the NTI.
He said Mahumapelo was trying to divert attention from the allegations that he was involved in Bozwana’s murder, “and the question is: Did he order the hit on Bozwana? If the answer is no, then the next question is: Was he happy about the activities of Bozwana?”
Before his death, Bozwana had challenged Mahumapelo’s government all the way to the Constitutional Court, attached state vehicles and often demonstrated outside Mahumapelo’s McDonald’s franchise store in Mahikeng.
Molapisi questioned why Mahumapelo was opening the case now. “I was serving in his cabinet then and thereafter. He should have removed me immediately; how do you work with somebody who is trying to corrupt you?”